According to Buba Chivadze, the proof of this is his arrest in the administrative building of the City Hall on April 5 and his forcible removal from the building. According to the journalist, the security guards tried to stop him by using force, during which he received physical injuries. Chivadze still entered the mayor’s office and his personal office, but the security guards forced him to leave the office, after which Chivadze moved to the lobby and declared a hunger strike. The police demanded that the editor of “Kutaisi Today” leave the foyer and move to the citizens’ dormitory located on the first floor of the building, and then, on the grounds of disobedience, he was administratively detained and forcibly removed from the building. Buba Chivadze became incapacitated while being transferred to the police and was placed in the Kutaisi Referral Hospital. The journalist was later released on bail. His case will be considered by the court.
The public relations department of Kutaisi City Hall states that the journalist did not obey the warning of the City Hall employee that he needed a permit, resisted the security police and broke into the mayor’s office by force. Buba Chivadze himself says that he is preparing the material for the business interests of Kutaisi Mayor’s relatives and friends and their employment in budget organizations, and this is what became the basis for restricting movement in the City Hall building: “There is no normative act restricting a journalist from moving to the City Hall. We were not informed about the new regulation imposed by the mayor.”
According to journalist Buba Chivadze, he has injuries to his limbs, will conduct an examination in the presence of representatives of the State Inspector’s Office and will testify in court and not in the investigative agency.
Main Channel journalist Irakli Vachiberadze, who covered Buba Chivadze’s arrest live on April 5, said police had used excessive force. According to Vachiberadze, the journalist obeyed the demands of the police, but became helpless and demanded water, during which he was handcuffed, taken out of the building and forcibly put in the car. According to Irakli Vachiberadze, the arrest of the journalist in this form was aimed at intimidating the critical media: “It was a show staged by the government and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The arrest of a journalist on a large-scale special operation was an exemplary punishment for dissent. It was a sign that if anyone casts their vote, they will be put in this situation. “
According to Irakli Vachiberadze, he, as well as other journalists, do not know the rule according to which media representatives need an electronic pass to move around the City Hall. According to Vachiberadze, the relevant information is not searched on the City Hall website and Facebook page, nor did the journalists receive such a message. Irakli Vachiberadze suspects that the City Hall issued the relevant order after the arrest of Buba Chivadze and dated it with the old number. Until now, no other journalists working in Kutaisi have used electronic passports. They did not need such a permit until now and they were able to move freely in the building where Kutaisi City Hall, Sakrebulo and Imereti Regional Administration are located. According to Tamar Kavtaradze, journalist of Mega TV: “A statement was published that journalist Buba Chivadze had broken into the City Hall and needed a permit, about which no journalist had information so far, and only yesterday we learned that we needed an electronic permit to move to the City Hall. It was disturbing what we saw. ”
Nana Toshkhua, a member of the Media Advocacy Coalition and a media manager, demands a timely and fair investigation into the arrest of journalist Buba Chivadze. He does not remember such a fact during his 30 years of journalistic activity. According to Nana Toshkhua, the law should be observed by public officials first and foremost, and restrictions should not be imposed selectively: “We all know that Buba Chivadze is a critical journalist and it is very important for us to find out whether these rules apply selectively or equally to all journalists. We condemn selective attitudes towards journalists, civil society representatives, people. “Violence against everyone is bad and similar facts should be condemned and eliminated.”
Representatives of the media held a rally in front of the Kutaisi City Hall today and demanded a meeting with the mayor, but the public relations department of the City Hall said that Ioseb Khakhaleishvili is on a business trip to Tbilisi. The head of the service, Teona Giorgadze, did not answer questions about the new internal regulations of the City Hall and only said that journalists can move into the building after obtaining a special permit by prior agreement. “It is not allowed to move in any state agency without a permit, so any of you are not restricted to move, you can get any information after the permit is issued.”
The order of the mayor of Kutaisi, according to which journalists must get a permit to enter the building every time, is unclear for Giga Shushania, the head of the Sakrebulo faction of the National Movement. He expressed solidarity with the journalists and told them that the faction, if they wish, will allow a special pass that will allow them to move around the building at any time. Human rights NGOs demanded a timely and appropriate response from the authorities to the arrest of the editor of Kutaisi Today and the use of force by the police.